B&W of A Sound Transit Link Leaving A Foggy Northgate for Angle Lake
Avgeek Joe/Flickr

This is an open thread.

83 Replies to “News roundup: no better friend”

  1. About the CT/ET merger: These things can get rather complex, so this task is necessary. It appears to be an “action plan” and not another “study”.

    With Lynnwood Link opening in about 3 years, the refresh is very timely too.

    I finally wonder if a new name for the operation will be recommended. I don’t have any suggestions although I do like keeping the Swift branding for faster lines.

      1. Snohomish West Transit? Then all of their branding can begin with “SW” — which means they can keep Swift, and add Swan or Swing or Sword or Swoop or Swirl or Swanky!

    1. What’s wrong with Community Transit? CT is not going to change its name or its bus styling just because a much smaller entity merges into it. Sure, “Community” could be anywhere, but CT is well-known in Snohomish County and the buses are visible.

      I could see a merger of Swift and Stride because they are both limited-stop services, but Stride is mainly on freeways while Swift is not. Stride 522 is the closest to a Swift line. But ST was loth to share a brand with another agency. And there are arguments both ways about whether 405 Stride is really comparable to Swift, or having the same brand throughout Snohomish County but only on freeways and 522 in King County. Of course, King County has more extensive Link, which fulfills the same function as Swift.

      1. “What’s wrong with Community Transit?”

        Imho, nothing. I’d be perfectly fine with the agency continuing to operate as CT (officially registered as the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation) post merger.

  2. re bike and scooter share: no, more is not merrier; more is more clutter blocking sidewalks, curb ramps, and bus stops. The billionaire-backed tech firms get to mine cell phone data, young tech bros get to scoot, and the sidewalks users get clutter (e.g., pedestrians, transit riders, seniors, and the mobility and visually impaired). Do the users benefit from having several vendors; does each have its own app? Some cities use geo fencing to limit parking of the shared devises.

    1. Bike/Scooter share is pretty highly regulated in Seattle; see these pages:



      At the bottom of each, you can see requirements for permits and associated legislation. If you see a poorly parked bike or scooter, you can report to Find-It-Fix-It.

      We have a few scooter-share options, but since Uber sold JUMP to Lime, there’s only been the one bike share option. So, in this case, having at least one competitor for the private bike share option is better.

      Sidewalk clutter is solved with wider sidewalks, not fewer mobility options. Plus, the more people who can see how weak our bike infrastructure is, the more people who will support improving bike (and transit, generally) infrastructure.

      Some eastsiders disagree with facts, but the facts are there is already an excess of space in Seattle for necessary car trips. There are just too many people driving cars unnecessarily, because they see no viable alternatives.

      1. https://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10348837&GUID=615AF5BD-664C-47EC-9584-A8E232ABD8A5
        The link is to the SDOT presentation on scooter share from December 15. See slide 21 for sidewalk enforcement. The safety and injury data needs enhancement.

        Could the vendors and users enforce the rules themselves?
        If a car is parked on the sidewalk, SPD enforces and has it towed.
        Seattle does not seem to have enough funding for sidewalks where they are lacking, especially in frequent transit arterials, not to mention pavement management, RR, trolley overhead etc. How would they build wider sidewalks. right of way is the most scarce resource.

      2. “How would they build wider sidewalks. right of way is the most scarce resource.”

        I agree with Eddie here. I too see little enforcement. At my property down in California I get complaints from my tenants about shared scooters/bikes blocking the sidewalk pretty frequently. They usually move them to the planting strip, but is that really where they belong?

      3. I don’t know how the vendors enforce the rules, since the few times I’ve used the scooter share, I’ve put in the small amount of effort required to park it correctly. I know the apps require a photo be taken of how the scooter or bike is parked, so maybe they flag accounts that routinely park them poorly.

        The SDOT permit requires the vendors self-enforce to reduce incidents of clutter, and based on SDOT’s data, obstruction hazards are falling over time. Injuries are self-reported, so we’ll never know that number with great accuracy. However, 17 collisions were reported to police and all involved cars, with one fatality and 5 serious injuries. I put the blame for that on bad infrastructure enabling poor decisions by both the rider and the driver.

        Wider sidewalks is generally easy – you don’t have to make more ROW, just reallocate what exists. For the problem of micro-mobility parking, one 15-20-foot car parking space gets you a dozen or more scooter and bike spaces, so making space for scooter parking off the sidewalk is a very easy fix. I’d like to see on-street bike corrals on every block.

      4. Find-It-Fix-It is your friend, here. Get the app and report to SDOT – if the vendors don’t know people have knocked over the scooters, then no one knows to fix it.

      5. “Wider sidewalks is generally easy – you don’t have to make more ROW, just reallocate what exists.”

        This is a different argument than you seemed to be making in your earlier comment. Utilizing the street space for parking shared scooters and bikes is different than “making the sidewalks wider”. Both come with some capital costs and the city already has a backlog of needed sidewalks as eddiew has pointed out.

        Additionally, should a converted parking space be free to bike and scooter users, whether they be shared or owned units? Should the private shared bike/scooter companies pay some of the capital costs for the dedicated use of this existing ROW? Should their permit fees be bumped up to cover the loss of the parking revenues?


      6. The shared devises on sidewalks, in curb ramps, and blocking bus stops should be viewed with an empathetic lens; what if you were blind, a senior, or in a wheelchair?

      7. I’m conflating the width of sidewalks (which in the paradigm of street lanes, could be thought of as pedestrian lanes, as opposed to bike lanes, bus lanes, and general lanes) with the space usable by people on the street, which isn’t its technical definition. Maybe I ought to be more careful with that technical definition, since to me, “widening sidewalks” doesn’t necessarily mean moving the curb and widening the concrete, but instead to mean to give dedicated space back to people who are walking or rolling around. In my looser definition, “Cafe Streets” permits that allow businesses to turn a parking space into an eating space is a form of sidewalk widening.

        So, to clarify, my argument is that if you can’t widen sidewalks enough along a whole block such that there’s a 6′ furniture strip in addition to the 6′ walking strip, then the second best option is to allocate the 20′ of curb space a single car takes to parking for a dozen or so bikes and scooters. If a corral is routinely full (either of corporate-owned bikes/scoots or personally owned bikes/scoots), then maybe it would be time to expand the corral.

        In terms of forcing businesses to pay for these infrastructural improvements, I’m not going to say they shouldn’t, but it seems to me like it’s one of those net-positive improvements that helps everyone that centralized government is meant to engender.

      8. eddiew – I think it’s hypocritical to single out poorly parked scooters and bikes when there are far more poorly parked cars and trucks blocking much more of urban infrastructure. I wish everyone parked their vehicles with respect to those who can’t easily navigate around them – and I believe most people do. At least with scooters and bikes, there’s a potential for a disabled person to ask for help moving the device, as opposed to a double-parked SUV consuming the sidewalk and driveway forcing the person to turn around or hop the curb or fully (and illegally) walk or roll in the street.

    2. I’d much rather have a scooter parked on the sidewalk than a car. Most people can move a scooter off the sidewalk, but no one can move a car. And there’s lots of residential neighborhoods where people have too many cars and one of them sticks out of their driveway into the sidewalk.

      More non-car services means some of these people will own less cars and they won’t be on the sidewalk anymore.

    3. Another bikeshare, yawn, There were three in the past. I don’t see much difference in the current one vs the previous ones except the e-bikes look a little different and have more LED indicators. Bikes parked in an ugly or blocking manner is a minor issue; I have to move one only a couple times a year. An additional bikeshare company would probably make no difference; the difference is between any and none. And misparking may be more common common with scooters than with bikes.

      I still haven’t used a bikeshare or scootershare, and at this point I probably won’t, especially since their per-hour charges are much higher than they were at the beginning.

    4. Scooters being parked on the sidewalk generally hasn’t bothered me. Most are parked responsibly; those that are in the way are in the way because the sidewalk isn’t wide enough, and the user doesn’t want to run up a large bill, circling block after block, looking for a wide furniture zone.

      Speaking of which, these things are incredibly expensive to ride, to the point where it is impossible for rental scooters to ever amount to a non-trivial percentage of trips in the city, at least without people spending as much or more on scooter rentals as they do on cars. To give an idea of how expensive, $0.35/min. equates to $2.10 per mile at 10 mph, just 25% less than the posted $2.70/mile yellow taxi rate. This makes riding a rental scooter about as expensive as riding in an Uber car, except, at least with the Uber car, up to four people can ride for the price of one, whereas, with the scooters, every person is required to pay the full fare, separately.

      There do exist some people who have a lot of money that ride Uber and Lyft cars around for a non-trivial percentage of their trips. But for most, Uber and Lyft are affordable only for special trips in special situations. So, if rental scooters are going to have Uber-style pricing, it is hard to imagine these being affordable outside of special trips for special situations, either. Which means people who imagine them making a serious dent in the last-mile problem are missing a fundamental point. Any service that is too expensive for the average person to use more than a few times per year cannot make such a dent. It simply can’t.

      At best, these fleets probably do contribute to sales of e-scooters and e-bikes, by allowing people to try out the experience with a very low barrier to entry. Buying your own e-scooter or-e-bike is far, far cheaper than renting them, and if you commute on it regularly, you can recoup the entire purchase price in just a few months.

      I’ve read a bit on the issue, and I do believe the root cause for such high prices is probably not so much profiteering (there’s too much competition from other forms of transportation), but a broken business model. These vehicles get lost and vandalized constantly, so a vehicle that costs 5% of what a car costs to make, but only lasts 5% as long as a car before ending up in a junkyard, must come with a monthly payment equivalent to what a car costs. Then, there’s all the driving around to chase after the scooters to keep the batteries charged and the parking orderly. If every mile traveled in a scooter requires a half a mile of some gig worker driving in a car, then, of course, the cost per mile to ride in an e-scooter has to be same order of magnitude as the cost-per-mile of a taxi or Uber car, in order for the service to cover its operating costs and not bleed money. And that’s not even getting into insurance costs, city permitting fees, disposing of all the broken scooters, credit card processing fees, sales tax, etc.

      Nor, are the rental scooters clear wins for the environment, either. While they do save some CO2 when they’re ridden, much of that CO2 gets paid back when a gig worker chases after it in their car to charge it. And the environmental impact of manufacturing all those scooters that only last a month or two before being thrown in a landfill probably swamps all of the above. Which begs the question, of what purpose are they intended to serve?

      All that said, I do think there are some limited situations where the concept of shared e-scooters can make a lot of sense. Many hotels provide them as an amenity for their guests and rent them out by the hour. I have also heard of a few apartment buildings do the same for their residents. The city could even do the same in public housing buildings, and rent them out below cost. But, the model of just having them out on the streets does not seem workable, at least not at fares low enough to encourage regular use.

      1. I think the business model of bike and scooter share is really interesting, in that what you’re basically paying for is the ability to go wherever you want with less inherent danger if you’re slightly inebriated, and greater ease of parking wherever you’re going. Sure, they may mostly be used by “youths” jumping from one restaurant or bar or escape room or neighborhood to the next, but I still see it as an improvement over waiting for a circulating rideshare driver to pick them up.

        The fact that the scooters have a terrible lifespan is not really a problem of the city, nor of the user, but is best dealt at a societal scale (and in general application to sturdy consumable products) with with greater requirements for ease of maintenance and materials recycling. If the scooters can be broken down into repairable and/or recyclable parts, then it’s mostly a market problem of providing those services.

        Same goes for overnight charging and deployment. I’d love to see more pressure for electrification of the service vehicles. However, I’d prefer to see more pressure for electrification of all vehicles, so that point is kind of moot when applied specifically to electric micro-mobility.

        I think the point of Freedom(tm) is to have access to as many options to achieve a goal as possible, and it especially applies to transportation options. If the City accommodated bicyclists and scooter riders as much as it does so for drivers, many of the observed problems with scooter/bikeshare (safety; parking/clutter) simply wouldn’t exist. At that point, it’d be up to the companies to determine if there’s profit to be made providing the hype of micro-mobility or not. There are plenty of people, though, who own their own bikes and scooters who have trouble parking them safely outside businesses, so providing the infrastructure for both classes of small-vehicle users (short-term rental vs personal ownership) is a win-win for all involved.

      2. I worry about drunk kids riding a scooter in traffic without a helmet. The main benefit of a shared scooter or bike is you don’t have to worry about whether it is stolen. Shared bikes are not usually the best E-bikes in the world, but scooters might be closer to what a private scooter would be like.

        The biggest problem I see is one Mike raised: the cost. Every “youth” in the world — including mine — has several different ride share apps on their phone, and when they go out drinking or partying they don’t go alone, so they share an Uber or Lyft if they can’t walk to the next watering hole. It is the same economics that make Uber/Lyft so competitive with buses for local trips. Pick up times today with Uber and Lyft are within minutes, and there is no parking.

        If E-bikes or scooters are the same cost as Uber/Lyft for a trip when there are two or more riders, folks — including youths — choose Uber/Lyft. I find a lot of Uber/Lyft charges on my Paypal or credit card account from my kids (which we encourage if they are going to drink), but never one E-bike or scooter charge, and I would be pretty angry if they rode a bike or scooter without a helmet, drunk or sober.

      3. to the scooter share price points raised by asdf2, consider slide 12 of the presentation. the mode seems pricey.

      4. To be fair, a taxi costs $2.75 just to get into it, and there’s a charge for each passenger over 2. The place I see scooters mostly is downtown, and there I can believe typical trips are less than a mile or two, so less than a dollar if they really only have to pay the per-minute fee.

        The business model of bikeshares, scootershares, and Uber./Lyft seems to be to bilk gullible investors until they get wise to it, and exploit gig workers who have no better job opportunties and don’t understand the maintenance costs those miles are putting on their car, and hoping that autonomous cars will come soon enough to save their bacon. Or maybe it’s what asdf2 said at the beginning of them, that what the companies really want is users’ data.

        When scooters first came out they were inexpensive push scooters. But the scootershare companies went with electric ones, as the bikeshare companies switched to electric, and that raised their costs dramatically. It’s more of an issue specific to Seattle and a few other cities that have steep hills. The companies jumped to electric without perhaps thinking of the costs, or of how the high prices would limit usage.

        Aren’t scootershare scooters recharged by pedaling or braking or solar power or something? Do they really all have to be plugged in every night?

      5. To be fair, there do exist a few very special cases where I consider rental scooters/bikes attractive, even at current prices. I’m thinking when you’re 1) in a hurry, 2) willing to pay the price of an Uber to get somewhere quickly, 3) don’t have your bike around, 4) not carrying anything, 5) traveling alone, and 6) the distance is short enough and traffic bad enough that a scooter that’s right there will get you where you need to go *faster* than waiting for and riding a Lyft/Uber car.

        The number of trips where all 6 conditions are satisfied simultaneously is not zero, but quite small. There is also a 7th condition, of course, that a quick route to the destination exist along a safe bike route, which is also far from given in this city.

        My hunch, though, is that the companies are not really interested in first/last mile travel, but tourists who aren’t paying attention to the charges they are racking up, taking scooters out for an hour or two at a time, riding them around to attractions and stopping frequently to take pictures (while the billing clock continues to run). It is at least plausible that there’s enough of these “whale customers” to put the overall service in the black, even if real first/last mile trips actually lose money.

        The catch is that, I’m not sure how sustainable this business model really is. It’s just too easy for hotels to set up their own rental fleet for guests, and rent them out at hourly rates less than what Lime charges. Airbnb hosts can even just buy a scooter as a guest amenity, ask guests to plug it in when not in use, and bundle it in with the nightly rental rate. Unlike the Lime scooters, guests won’t be able to steal or vandalize these scooters without their credit card being charged for a replacement, so they’ll last a lot longer longer, plus no gig workers driving around to recharge them.

        Similar with user data. Obviously, it’s worth something to them, but only to a point. I highly doubt the value of the data, on a per trip basis, would exceed a few pennies. Otherwise, it would be cheaper to collect the data in other ways, like set up cameras of people walking, or conduct surveys.

        As to regen braking, most ebikes don’t have it because the energy recovered is too little to justify the cost of the extra components. Those that do have it tend to be high end, which the rental fleets definitely are not. At best, there’s a small solar panel to power the GPS tracker, since they need to know where all of their bikes are, even those with dead batteries. But, a gps tracker uses negligible power compared to the motor.

      6. I don’t get the fascination with the financial unsustainability of private micro-mobility, when the only real impact those companies actually have is revealing how little space we have for alternative forms of transportation.

        If they’re cluttering the sidewalk, then the city should figure out which one of the dozen private automobile parking spaces on the block should be re-allocated as a bike/scooter corral. If there’s no space on the street to ride, then the city should to reallocate road space for vehicles that don’t have crumple zones, to keep them separate from ones that do.

        If the market for short-term bike/scooter rental doesn’t exist at sustainable prices, then those companies will eventually give up, and the worst case is that the city ends up with a bunch of infrastructure that’s still usable by people who own their own bikes and scooters and whatnot.

      7. I don’t want to use a service that exploits drivers. When the general public thinks there are no downsides to Uber-like services, there’s pressure to disinvest in transit because rideshares can supposedly replace it. Metro itself has introduced several small-area taxis under pressure, when it could serve more people at less cost by adding fixed coverage routes or increasing bus frequency instead.

      8. There’s also the semi-fixed model like the Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle, where it runs at certain times to certain stops, but it has some padding at the ends (North Bend and Duvall) to make slight deviations. Some South King County routes are like that too, where it serves larger areas once an hour and you don’t need an app or to wait an arbitrary amount of time, but in the lowest-density far end it allows dial-a-ride deviations, but still on its regular schedule.

      9. And if hourly is too long, run it every 30 minutes or 15 minutes. We need to get to world-class service someday, five minutes on the core routes and fifteen minutes on the coverage routes. We can’t do it until we have the political will and money, but we can take steps toward it by, for instance, not diverting money to unscheduled taxis.

      10. I think asdf2 lists most of the factors I consider when deciding whether to use Uber/Lyft as opposed to driving. Two others are whether I plan to drink alcohol because then price is irrelevant, and the cost and hassle of parking in Seattle. For example, I have convinced my wife to have New Years Eve. dinner in Seattle this year, and we will Uber from Mercer Island (my parking garage is in Pioneer Square but we are dining at Tulio’s, and Pioneer Square is sketchy at night).

        I really can’t imagine a situation in which an e-scooter or e-bike is a better option than Uber/Lyft if the goal is transportation, or just your own bike or scooter. The farther the distance the bigger advantage Uber/Lyft have over bikes or scooters, especially since there is no extra charge for addtional riders. Uber/Lyft are ideal if you are drinking, when e-scooters and e-bikes become dangerous.

        I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have an Uber/Lyft app. on their phone with an account already set up, or who takes a taxi. Uber/Lyft are all about the ease of the app. Even from Issaquah to downtown Seattle, four people sharing an Uber if they are going to drink is not that expensive considering a night out on the town.

        The future IMO is Uber/Lyft for first/last mile access because Uber/Lyft are doorstep to destination, or train or bus, and then light rail or a bus for longer distances. IIRC Uber/Lyft accounted for 75 million miles in 2019 in King Co., and the denser the location like Seattle the better the deal. For example, my wife and I may Uber around Seattle on New Years Eve. to see the sights because the cost for an Uber from Westlake Center to the Olympic Hotel to see the decorations or Tulio’s is inexpensive, and my wife thinks it is safer than walking the streets.

        The future is Uber/Lyft. They will be some of the first to electrify, and some of the first to go driverless. For transit the future is long range trips, especially light rail if traffic congestion returns, although today most transit trips are short. Otherwise, folks will drive their own car, or Uber/Lyft if they plan to drink or want to avoid the hassle and cost of parking which is mostly a Seattle issue.

        You could eliminate all street parking to make room for e-bikes and scooters, but ridership will always be tiny, and as asdf2 notes mostly tourists. If more and more visitors to Seattle opt for Uber/Lyft we won’t need all that parking.

      11. Mike, I was talking about micro-mobility like short-term rental scooters and bikes, not ride-share like Uber and Lyft.

        In that vein, though, it’s up to legislators to find ways to require companies like Uber and Lyft to treat their workers like employees, if not actually as employees. Until then, like every other 1099 worker, it’s up to the Independent Contractor to advocate for themselves.

        Even in cities with excellent transit, there always has been, and always will be, a significant market for getting directly from location to destination as fast as possible regardless of cost.

      12. My comments did not intend to say that bike lanes we’re a waste. Ridership on *rental* bikes and scooters will always be very tiny and mostly tourists due to their cost. The real ridership on bike lanes comes from people riding their own bike.

        There are a lot of trips already where riding your own bike is faster than transit and not that different from driving a car, especially if the trip is short your bike is an ebike. I’ve ridden between Kirkland and Lincoln Square in an ebike in essentially the same time it would have taken to drive, after accounting for the hassles of getting into and out of the parking garage.

        As to last mile transportation, Uber and Lyft don’t work well for the same reason rental scooters don’t work well – they’re too expensive to use too often, to the point where you may as well abandon transit entirety and just pay to park in the downtown garage.

        What forms of last mile transportation are cheap and scalable? Walking is an obvious one, since it is always instantly available, completely free, and is not at risk of service cuts depending on which way the political winds blow. Switching to another bus can be another cheap, scalable solution, provided that the bus is very frequent and goes in a straight line. This works best in the city center (think, Bellevue to Belltown as an example), where there is enough ridership to run the bus frequently without running a bunch of empty buses, and buses can serve the area well running in a straight line.

        Bikes can also be a last-mile solution, but this typically requires buying an extra cheap bike and being willing to lock it up at the bus stop overnight. Bike share can also work, but would need to look and be priced more like the New York City bike share than what we have here.

        For my purposes, if I need last mile travel, I will, in most cases, simply walk or run, since it’s free, instantly available, keeps me warm on a cold day, and requires no equipment. Although I will occasionally hop on another bus if it happens to be going my way and I don’t have to wait long. Uber/Lyft for last mile is only for special situations, like carrying luggage to a Link station to go to the airport.

      13. Another note about bike lanes. Even bike lanes with zero riders on them still serve a purpose, which is to add a few feet of separation between people walking on the sidewalk and cars on the street. This makes walking much more comfortable and less dangerous. This is especially important for anyone walking with pets or small children. Protected bike lanes, like on Roosevelt, add even more separation for pedestrians. Narrowing the street also discourages gross speeding during off-peak travel times.

        It is time to move away from prioritizing peak-hour car capacity over basic road safety. Especially if remote work allows commute travel to be more evenly spread out throughout the day.

      14. I would choose an e-scooter any day, rather than an uber or lift, if I’m travelling a mile or two. Last time I used a Lyft, from Federal Way to Tacoma, it was $80. I am just not willing to pay that on a regular basis.

        So now I make sure to end my evening before midnight and catch the last 574. I generally walk home the two miles from where the bus drops me, or I take my bike and use that. But occasionally I get lucky and there is a scooter near where I get off the bus. No brainer. Don’t have to wait 10 or 15 mins for some stressed out, drowsy Uber or lLyft driver to find me walking the streets, and hope they don’t think I’m too sketch looking. Instead I can enjoy a really fun ride home for under $10 bucks, in under 10 minutes, without the hassle of worrying about carting my bike around all night. Works even better for games and shows in Seattle using the 594. True last mile solution. No brainer.

        As long as there is a scooter there.

      15. @DT:

        “I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have an Uber/Lyft app. on their phone with an account already set up, or who takes a taxi.”

        Funny, my world is exactly the opposite. I can count the sum of people I know who use Uber/Lyft on one hand, with fingers to spare. In general my social circles don’t want to support businesses that take advantage of their drivers, and even those that do use them would rather take owner operated taxis but feel like the city and existing drivers have prevented the industry from issuing enough badges to meet demand.

      16. The other thing, and the main reason i even tried them; they are really fun.

        We spend a lot if time getting from point A to point B. As often as i can, i make that an entertainment, rather than a chore.

        If i have to spend an hour or so everyday moving myself around this often beautiful, interesting earth, almost any mode is better than clenched fists staring at brakelights.

        And quite a few are almost impossible to not derive joy from.

      17. A Joy, the Uber and Lyft apps are free, whether you use the service or not, so most download the apps.

        I also think you have a rosy view of driving a cab. I drove a cab in the early 1980’s. We were all independent contractors (which was nice because it meant no one paid taxes since most payments then were in cash). You paid $35 for your “nut”, which gave you the cab for 12 hours, so you worked 12 hour shifts, plus gas.

        Like bartending — which I have also done — you had to deal with a lot of demanding or stupid people. The other drivers had their issues too, mostly drugs. Sometimes after your nut and gas and 12 hours you barely made any money. No one ever cleaned the cabs so they smelled, and dispatch was so bad and customer unfriendly by the time you picked up your fare the rider was pissed off.

        Eventually a local cab driver was shot in the head and robbed, so I decided that was enough of cab driving for me.

      18. @DT, I did specify owner operated taxis. As in the driver owns the car, and therefore has a stake in keeping it clean. They still work for a centralized service though, and from what I can tell they are not independent contractors. I am not a huge fan of taxis, as I prefer public transit over private whenever humanly possible. But that said, in my circles we choose the better regulated option and tend to have better results.

        And what good is downloading an app if you literally never use it? Even if it costs nothing to download, it still takes up space on your system better used for something else.

      19. Daniel, the only time I’ve use Uber was once in Baltimore when a friend hailed one. I’ve never used Lyft, and don’t have either app on my phone. I don’t use GrubHub, DoorDash or any other delivery app except for pickup. These corporations’ business plans are only viable by exploiting society’s investments in infrastructure (blocking crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes, all while undercutting transit) and their own workers’ rights; sometimes there’s no way around that, but with a robust transit system in the Seattle area, I haven’t seen a need. One of the reasons we started riding transit again back in May 2020 was to get to grocery stores and pickup food from restaurants, so I guess you could say my antipathy towards them goes so far as to be willing to risk my own well-being.

    5. I have yet to use a dockless scooter. I tried a few times, but they were all out of order. Otherwise when I see them I am already biking or walking with a purpose and don’t need a scooter.

      In any case, while they can be annoying when incorrectly parked, I appreciate that I can (although I realize not everyone is able to) correct the problem. I was walking my dog last night and I had to cross the street because a car was parked halfway in the driveway yet blocking the entire sidewalk. Had it been a scooter, I would have been able to easily move it to the sidewalk strip.

      Pretty much every time I go for a walk I encounter a car parked in a way that is endangering the public. Sometimes I will report it on the Find It Fix It, but usually the driver has moved the car by the time parking enforcement follows up on the report.

      As for drivers who park their cars and block the 30 feet near corners – I don’t see why the city doesn’t just put up bike racks, jersey barriers, or just big rocks that prevent parking altogether. It’s almost like they don’t care about pedestrians and don’t mind if drivers park their cars in ways that endanger others.

      1. I’m a frequent scooter/ebike share user. I checked my Lime account, and I took around 15 rides a month the last few months. At an average cost of around $4, that’s $60/mo spent on scooters. I don’t own a car, frequently ride my own bike or walk, and frequently use transit. I use rideshare a few times a month (usually when it’s late, dark, bad weather or all 3). I agree with asdf2 on the use cases for shared scooters. I use them when my destination is a bit too far to walk (or I’m in a rush), the bus is infrequent or not quite convenient, or the hills are too steep to bike comfortably. That’s plenty of destinations around first hill, Capitol Hill, the CD, downtown etc. The shared scooters are especially convenient for one-way trips. Obviously I could save a few bucks by walking or using my own bike, but I figure I save so much money by not owning a car (or Ubering everywhere), I can afford a few scooter rides for convenience. Btw, rideshare prices have gone way up in recent months, so for solo trips a scooter is way cheaper (though that’s not the case for 2+ people traveling together).

      2. Why did mike Orr refer to pressure on Via and Ride2; it looks like Metro and SDOT threw those funds away voluntarily; they seem proud of it.

  3. “$2.7 million for the Eastlake layover facility in Seattle;”

    What layover “facility”? There’s a row of buses laying over in the parking lanes. Is that a facility?

      1. This project still befuddles me. What future services would need to lay over there? CT’s commuter services will go away when Link arrives in Lynnwood and the 57X & 59X will also eventually disappear. The only route that I can think of would be the C-Line. Others *might* include the 7 and 120 but they would have to be extended far beyond their current terminus.

      2. I don’t know either because most of the buses are Tacoma ones and similar long-distance routes. Maybe it’s for the gap between 2022 and 2032 when Tacoma Dome might open. Or maybe it’s for completely different routes. Seattle has been pressuring Metro to minimize layovers downtown, and that’s why the 49 has only one space and the 10, 11, and 47 live-loop downtown. So Metro may want to shift other routes to this location. I don’t see the C because it terminates at Fred Hutch and probably can’t use the narrow part of Mercer Street east of the I-5 entrance. But the 131 or 132 is now terminating in Belltown, so routes like it could be shifted to lay over at Eastlake, and Metro may want to consolidate layovers into a building, especially routes near downtown. Or maybe Metro is just being shortsighted, although I doubt that.

  4. Throwing this out to the horde, since Zimbabwe canned (per Erica Barnett tweets), who does the horde want as SDOT head who would fit the mayor’s car friendly vision?

    1. Harrell made it pretty clear he is looking outside SDOT, and the interim dir. won’t be a candidate. So I think Harrell wants a top to bottom revamp of SDOT.

      Attracting a national candidate to Seattle might be tough, especially since Zimbabwe lasted two years and really didn’t do anything obvious to be fired (although Harrell has four years left on his term).

      I also think Seattle’s Council, the huge backlog of unfunded bridge repair (Zimbabwe’s two years were dominated by the West Seattle Bridge which wasn’t his fault) which isn’t a secret anymore, and the probable conflict between Harrell and the Council (and progressive citizens and business community), will make any highly qualified candidate wary of taking the job.

      Every city can look forward to federal infrastructure funds, but Seattle’s Council has been incredibly irresponsible in the past about how to spend those funds, and anything the city gets in the infrastructure bill should go towards neglected bridge repair and replacement, but will probably go toward street cars and bike lanes with 50% of the promised projects being funded with the money due to the incredible cost to do anything in Seattle.

      Figuring out what to do during a pandemic isn’t easy either, especially as transit systems continue to fall deeper into the hole running at 50% estimated ridership, and Omicron now pushing any kind of return to office work many months out, if ever. It is much easier to figure out the transportation future for a city like Bellevue that has a single vision for its transportation, but much harder for a city like Seattle that has many competing ideas and ideologies over transportation with some real funding issues.

    2. I think we should first avoid jumping to conclusions and simply assuming that Harrell wants someone who cares only about cars and throws everyone else under the bus, without actually seeing who the replacement is. It might turn out to be someone quite decent. Let’s wait and see who Harrell decides to hire, then complain if we don’t like him.

  5. With Omicron ready to rage over the PAC NW, I was surprised today on the bus when I saw five passengers with double masks, one with triple masks, and two others with KN95 masks. If you take the bus, double mask or wear a N95(KN95). Single cloth masks will not protect you from Omicron on Transit.

    1. I pretty much only wear KN95 masks now. I’ve gotten used to them and observe little difference in comfort between them and the cloth/surgical masks, so I may as well wear something that actually protects me.

      The cheap masks that droop down and leave most of your nose exposed are next to useless. Sometimes, I even encounter bus drivers with droopy masks and exposed nostrils. Being exposed all day, you would think the bus drivers would be among the most careful.

    1. San Francisco has long been a nutjob of far-left policies. Seattle is more moderate and normal, which is one reason I live here and not there.

      1. Not so sure about that. I don’t recall news stories of a CHOP like area in SF. I don’t see May Day riots in SF. Portland, yes… it’s a nutjob that is worse than Seattle. SF has a bigger problem with crime right now because it’s a bigger city (quite a bit bigger). But Seattle has been a SF wanna be for decades. SF relies even more on tourism than Seattle so it can’t get to real with the Haight-Ashbury ideals.

      2. Seattle was a major SF wannabe from the 1880s until the 1990s. Then we finally got the fame and size we wanted and then realized maybe it’s not so great after all. I’ve been watching SF and the Bay Area for decades so I’m sure about my assessment. I lived in San Jose in the early 70s, my mom always told me stories about her wonderful youth in the 50s in SF and Vallejo, and I went down many times between 1997 and 2013. I’ve also gathered that the 1960s counterculture didn’t just happen there out of the blue; there were precursors from Berkeley and SF liberals in the 1950s, and the wide variety of discharged soldiers in 1985 that made the Bay Area their new home. For instance, leathermen and motorcycle gangs originated from discharged soldiers in 1945 who preferred the already-tolerant California over their hometowns and evolved into those.

        I can’t fully articulate it well, but tolerance of street people and a proto “ultraliberalism/defund the police” was larger in SF and Seattle in the 80s and 90s, and tent cities were much larger in SF in the post-2008 recession, and environmentalists have been more extreme there for fifty years. There’s an anti-urban strain of environmentalism in SF, Marin County, and Silicon Valley that has no equivalent up here. A belief that cities and density are bad for the environment, and we should all live in low-density neighborhoods or in rural areas. That’s false and not all Bay Area environmentalists believe it, but many do. The opposition to apartments and upzoning isn’t just nimbys; it’s also a belief that they’re bad for the environment.

        Seattle was the epicenter of CHOP, and Portland was the epicenter of the Proud Boy riots or whatever you want to call them, and the months-long anti-police/BLM standoffs around the Pioneer Courthouse or whatever it was, but those were unusual and may be one-time occurrences. I assume Bay Area leftism will continue to be the biggest and most dominant, because people’s attitudes there are so deep and long-held.

        Portland has its own leftism in anarchist Eugene, white supremacists are big but quiet in Washington, and white power/antifa demonstrations and skirmishes gravitate to Portland. Those are longstanding trends that will probably continue, but I think none of them is as large as the leftisms (plural) in the Bay Area.

    2. Sawant is already pushing back after her recall victory. Not on anything specific yet because neither Harrell nor she have proposed anything specific since the election, but her general rhetoric suggests she’ll do a lot of complaining. The other councilmembers may push back against the mayor, but I’m not sure what positions they’d take or even whet Harrell’s proposals will be. The current council pushed back repeatedly against Durkan. I think the next council will be less unified toward Harrell.

      1. I’d hardly call Sawant “victorious”. The margin was like 1/2 of 1 percent on a recall. It also doesn’t absolve her from a civil lawsuit.

        More notably, her district must shed at least 1500 people and maybe up to 10000 people because D1 and D2 need more. The areas next to D2 are those where Sawant got the best margin and actually her house in Leschi isn’t far from D2 either. So she appears to be facing tougher council elections in the future unless she ends up in D2 and Morales doesn’t run for that seat again.

      2. She thinks it’s a landslide and a mandate even if it’s just a few hundred votes. She said in a Times article that she’s not going to moderate her politics for her constituents who oppose her. That almost made me wish I’d voted yes on the recall, but I’m sticking to my principles that she’s done nothing worthy recall (embezzlement, corruption, violence, harming your disfavored constituents), and we can’t go recalling everybody every term because they’re of the wrong party. I’ve always voted against Sawant but she has always won, but that may not last forever. Especially with the district boundary changes you’re talking about.

      3. It might be a small margin of victory, but the election was setup to be as hard for her to win as possible. It was held in an off-year election, and the campaign pulled off a contrived signature challenge to get it on a special December ballot rather than during the regular November ballot, all of which combine for what is generally very low young, progressive turnout and a lot of old, well-off, white turnout. That she managed to beat back the recall despite all that really is a testament to the support of her base.

      4. There is probably some nonzero slice of voters that voted against Sawant in the general election, but felt that not liking her politics wasn’t enough to justify a recall and voted “no”. I don’t think this slice of the electorate is that big, but it’s almost certainly larger than her 0.1% margin of victory.

        If so, this is hardly a mandate. Those that didn’t vote for her last time and held their nose to vote against the recall will almost certainly be voting for her opponent again in the next regular election.

  6. The other day, I stumbled upon some aerial imagery which suggested, at some point in the past, the Seattle Center had streets with cars running right through the middle of it, in multiple directions.

    Unfortunately, I can’t find the link anymore, but I do remember that the space needle did exist, which indicates a lower bound for the date.

    Does anyone old enough to have lived at the time recall this? Was there a “war on cars” political battle to get Seattle Center pedestrianized? Today, no one can possibly imagine going back. Replacing the wide walkways with car streets would destroy the park.

    1. If Harrison street becomes a busway, it would be great to move the 8 fully off Denny and go straight through the Seattle Center.

    2. Seattle Center was built on multiple city blocks, and the streets are still city streets even though they’re pedestrianized. When you look at the wide corridor in front of the Mural Amphitheater that goes all the way across the entire campus, it’s clear that it’s Thomas Street.

      I assume that the streets were pedestrianized for the World’s Fair, but I didn’t come to Seattle until the early 70s so I don’t know what was before that. The fairgrounds were built around a National Guard armory and school property. Memorial Stadium or its ancestor may have already been there.

    3. I think there’s still a street next to the Space Needle where cars can go in for a block and then it dead-ends. If you walk in from Broad Street you’re right next to it, and there is/was arch sculptures with word art on the sidewalk. The street was renovated in the 90s or 00s, so you’re probably seeing a picture from before that. All the interior corridors were already pedestrianized when I first saw the Center as a child in the 70s.

    4. https://www.historicaerials.com/viewer

      Unfortunately, the only aerial image available on this website pre-dating 1962 is a shot from 1936, in which you can see the continuation of the beautiful street grid with some irreplaceable single-family housing that was depressingly demolished to make way for the soulless Seattle Center.

    5. You can view the 1936 King County aerial layer (among other places) here: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgismaps.kingcounty.gov%2Farcgis%2Frest%2Fservices%2FBaseMaps%2FKingCo_Aerial_1936%2FMapServer&source=sd

      You can also easily add it as a baselayer in GIS, along with the county’s more recent high-resolution aerial layers. Simply connect the WMTS link from https://gismaps.kingcounty.gov/arcgis/rest/services/BaseMaps/KingCo_Aerial_1936/MapServer to your GIS.

      Of course, this is from 1936, long before the Space Needle, so it’s not the layer you mentioned.

      The 1936 aerial map is a very useful resource. We can easily see the dramatic changes that the highway age had upon our city.

    6. Why did Broad Street exist in 1936? There doesn’t seem to be anything in the west important enough for a diagonal street to it.

      1. Mike?
        You’ve been around here long enough to hear some of the stories, haven’t you?

        In the case of Broad St. , it isn’t a diagonal where it starts at the waterfront.

        Remember, Downtown looks like it does because of egos. It’s ingrained in the PNW culture.

        Quoted from Knute Berger:
        “Two of Seattle’s early founders, Doc Maynard and Arthur Denny, disagreed about how the city should be laid out, and they each built their own plan.”

        We were, are, and always will be “Rugged Individualists”.

      2. I believe Broad street follows the path of a late 1800’s industrial railroad connecting Lake Union and Elliott Bay.

      3. Sam, it would much more likely have been a cable car. The hill up from Alaskan Way to First is way too steep for steel wheel-powered vehicles. Besides, by that time the NP had ringed Lake Union on every sode except the Eastside north of the power plant.

      4. Broad Street doesn’t look like it’s any steeper than around 5%, which is well within the range used on short branches to get to industrial areas.

        Getting up hills isn’t actually the limiting problem. The problem is stopping on the way down. That’s why you see things like the Fell System of adding an extra rail for braking, but going up the same hill they don’t need any extra traction. When dropping down a steep short hill it isn’t as much of a problem because they would just set hand brakes on a certain percent of the cars (on a few logging lines, where grades were as high as 13% in one case I know, it would be all of the cars) for the short, slow trip down.

        Sure, if you get into the 15% or greater range, you need cable or rack or something. Mainlines have mostly been regraded over the years to eliminate anything over about 2.5%. Historically, however, there was stuff that was quite steep, especially on short industrial spurs.

      5. The first block between Alaskan Way and Elliott is perhaps 5%, but the grade steepens for the next to blocks to First. Yes, there are steep industrial spurs, and they’re almost always served with “a handle”. That is, a cut of cars is kept between the engine and the car or cut of cars to be picked up or set out in order to allow the locomotive to remain on flatter ground.

        If there had been an “industrial railroad” on Broad Street, there would be some evidence of a curve connecting it to the GN main on the waterfront. The current park which is part of the museum grounds to the north of Broad might have had one, but the building that is “Spaces” is clearly Old Seattle, and it directly fronts the main all the way to the corner of Broad.

        In the 1936 view the parcel to the north of Broad between Alaskan Way and Elliott is occupied by a square building similar to the surviving “Spaces” structure.

        There was no “Wye”.

    7. I talked to my mother-in-law at Xmas. She moved to Seattle in 1962 and her recollection is that no cars were allowed on the Center grounds after the World’s Fair. Perhaps the picture you saw with the Space Needle was during the destruction?

  7. @DT: “as transit systems continue to fall deeper into the hole running at 50% estimated ridership”

    Transit is not a for-profit business. It’s a political decision what percent of costs fares should cover, what the tax structure should be to support the remaining funding, and what density of routes and frequency is right. If you combine public and private spending, the US has plenty of money for European-level transit and social services; it just doesn’t have the tax structure and will that they do. Americans spend (public+private) twice as much for half as good healthcare as those other countries. Some of the transit limitations are state-imposed constraints, but some of it is under Seattle’s and King County’s control.

    “It is much easier to figure out the transportation future for a city like Bellevue that has a single vision for its transportation, but much harder for a city like Seattle that has many competing ideas and ideologies over transportation with some real funding issues.”

    Seattle has a Transit Master Plan like Bellevue does, and both of them were incorporated into Metro’s long-range plan (Metro Connects). The STB arguments over post-ST3 Link lines are just amateur debates: none of the governments are considering any of them at this time. There are some inconsistencies between Seattle’s Transit Master Plan and Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, but those are side issues. Seattle’s government has pretty much agreed what it wants, it’s just debating how much to fund it and when/if it will be finished. The current TBD is smaller than the 2016-2020 one. Money is gradually coming in from various places for RapidRide H (Delridge), J (Eastlake), and R (Rainier), and the route 40 upgrades. That’s four major pieces of Seattle’s 2012 transit master plan right there, on top of RapidRide G (Madison) which is already under construction. When the economy and sales-tax receipts recover more, Seattle and Metro will have more resources to pursue their plans, and frequency will increase again.

    If Metro’s ridership continues at 50% for another year or two, the economy doesn’t recover, and federal covid grants run out, then it will have to cut service again. We already know what it will do. It restored most of the peak expresses and extra peak service in October believing offices would reopen soon. It would just reverse some of the restorations. It would protect the RapidRide lines, equity-designated routes, and the biggest other core routes. The rest would lose some runs, and the most unlucky would be suspended. “Midday is the new peak” seems to be the prevailing principle, meaning 8-to-7 weekdays and sometimes Saturdays. That’s what the new TBD focused on, in both the West Seattle bridge-mitigation service and in other routes. So I suspect that’s where Metro would head too if it has to cut.

    I don’t know what to say about Seattle’s ST3 Link lines because there’s so much uncertainty. I’ve written them off as too far in the future to be relevant to my transit concerns now. I waited 30-40 years for a subway to the U-District and Northgate, starting from when I moved to the U-District in 1985 and worked on Meridian in 1990. I’m so glad Northgate Link is now here; I celebrate every time I go to Roosevelt for various reasons. I lived in Ballard without RapidRide or the 40 in 2003. I’m tired of waiting for a long future; I want to know what transit is available now or in the next couple years, and I’ll work around that and live wherever the routes and frequency and walkability is highest. I’d like to see the Ballard and 45th and Metro 8 and Renton lines someday but I’m over getting emotional about them. I just wants something that works during this decade.

  8. A friend of mine drives a cement truck for a living out of Everett. He says he is delivering to King County projects much more often due to the strike. His company is not union so they have taken some of that work. The story was about light rail projects, but other projects are slowing also. There is not enough labor through out the industry to take up that void. Even with his company offering massive overtime. His company will get contracts to do light rail projects sometimes, but they were not prepared for the massive increase in business to accomodate some of those orders.

    1. I noticed on Tuesday evening there were a number of people using the S. Bellevue P&R. Which was odd since I’d never seen anyone there before. I noticed they all seemed to be pickup trucks. circled through the lot Wednesday AM and same thing. Don’t know if workers are parking there for a job on I-90 or DT Bellevue but the fact that it happened exactly when the concrete drivers went on strike leads me to believe this is a Union gathering spot.

    2. Yes, RapidRide G (Madison) and H (Delridge) are being delayed too. The westbound bus stop at 17th & Madison and the curb lane next to it were closed to construct a RapidRide station but then reopened while it’s stalled waiting for concrete. A Metro email today on the H’s status said: “Due to regional concrete supply issues, construction at the following locations have been paused temporarily:”, and listed 8 locations between Roxbury and 142nd.

  9. I drove through Maple Leaf neighborhood the other day and noticed a bicycle sharrow on 12th Ave Ne. I was going east on 92nd St. The reason I noticed it was newly installed stop signs for the east and west bound drivers. One observation I have is the lighting at some of those intersections is really poor. I would love to get some feedback from someone who has riiden through there on a bike.

    1. I find the LED street lights to be awful. They draw the eye to them and that makes it hard to see the street scape at the ground level. It’s almost blinding.

      I think part of the problem is that the technology should be applied differently than the traditional street light. I really wonder if smaller street lights placed closer together would be better.

      I think a local challenge is also that street lights are sometimes in the tree canopy. A street like Rainier has many unlit areas because the lighting doesn’t reach the ground. City Light and SDOT need to resolve this problem. Is this a problem in Maple Leaf too?

      1. The light’s color may also be an issue. Different LEDs produce different kinds of white. Some of the LEDs in car headlights, go signs, and streetlights are noticeably bluish, probably more than they need to be. I haven’t noticed a particular problem with streetlights drawing too much attention though. Maybe smaller lights would be better, for street aesthetics if nothing else. Areas with Victorian-style lamps look better than areas with highway-sized lamps.

    2. I have friends who live on 12th very near there. The street has been an Urban Greenway ever since the north entrance to Maple Leaf Reservoir Park was opened. Essentially every intersection along it from 88th through 95th has a roundabout to calm north-south traffic. It is very popular for pedestrians, though perhaps less so for bikes because of the steep hill and no creek crossing at the north end.

      They have never mentioned any problems with a higher than normal accident rate, so the roundabouts must be working. I guess the City is now trying to reduce “cut-through- east-west traffic.

  10. The story about the new Amtrak CEO and the massive infusion of cash to upgrade the fleet and expand service was very interesting.

  11. That is funny that appointing Hobbs Secretary of State was the only way to keep him from screwing up climate bills. Of course I can only guess that that was the real motivation.

Comments are closed.